Eight months into his tenure as President of Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC), Anthony Wise is pleased with how the college is positioned to support the education and workforce development needs of the counties that it serves.
In a recent interview with teknovation.biz, Wise talked about some of the strong programs Pellissippi State currently offers, its growing student body, relationships with other academic institutions, and the opportunities that the new Strawberry Plains campus provides.
Wise succeeded Allen Edwards as President on July 1, 2011 but, as his official online biographical information notes, he is “no stranger to the college.” He served for the previous four years as Vice President of the Learning Division, was Liberal Arts Department Head for three years, and taught history for nine years. This long-term tenure has given him a unique perspective on the college’s programs.
His top priority is ensuring that PSCC “is providing the types of non-credit, certificate and associate degree programs needed to support the local economy.”
As he pursues this priority, Wise says, “Space is one of the most serious considerations for the work we do.” PSCC has experienced a 32 percent growth in its student body in the past seven years. About 11,750 students are enrolled at PSCC’s four current campuses – the main campus in Hardin Valley, two other Knox County facilities on Division Street and Magnolia Avenue, and the new Blount County campus.
Wise is excited about the much needed expansion capacity that the new Strawberry Plains campus will provide when it opens this fall in the former Philips corporate building. He expects an initial enrollment of 300 students with between 1200 and 1500 students within a decade.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on the new Strawberry Plains campus, you can read a recent article in the Knoxville News Sentinel – http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/mar/13/pellissippi-state-finalizes-purchase-of-new-east/.)
He believes that the demographics of the students who are most likely to be served by the Strawberry Plains campus will be different from those enrolled at the main campus. For example, Wise envisions workforce development partnerships with manufacturers located in that area – companies like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
“It could be an intensification of what we have been doing at our other campuses,” he said. “We’re hearing from employer after employer needing industrial maintenance technicians.”
The workforce development needs of the region’s employers is always “top of mind” for the PSCC President.
“Knoxville is right up there in the production of media content,” Wise said, citing the importance of companies like Scripps Network, its HGTV operations and RIVR Media to the local economy. He spoke proudly of the role that PSCC’s Bagwell Center for Media and Art plays in providing graduates.
“This is one of our strongest programs,” Wise said. “We have the best equipment in the region for our students in specialties including video production, web design, communication graphics, and photography.”
He’s also committed to continuing to strengthen relationships with other educational institutions. This goal includes building stronger connections and partnerships with the Technology Centers and growing the dual admission “Bridge Program” with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
As Wise looks to the future, he ponders the possible impact that an improving economy could have on PSCC’s programs and enrollment growth. “Have people pursued education in lieu of not finding a job,” he asks. Only time will tell, but Wise and his team are preparing for all options as they work to help Knoxville employers secure the best prepared workforce possible.